A slightly different post today (which I’ve been meaning to write for a few weeks now), but I hope you guys enjoy it all the same.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter might remember that my boyfriend and I went on an impromptu trip to the Isle of Wight this time last month. And by impromptu I mean the idea literally came to us around 9 p.m on a Friday night. So, since the weather forecast looked quite promising (compared to the freezing temperatures we had in the previous weeks), we quickly booked a room for Saturday night and started making some last-minute plans.
We decided that the easiest way to get there would be to drive down to Portsmouth and take the ferry from there. Which is what we did. Unfortunately, the trip took a bit longer than we expected so we didn’t have time to have a look around in Portsmouth, but the view from the ferry more than made up for it.
If you’re planning on visiting the Isle of Wight via Portsmouth, my number one tip would be to book your ferry tickets in advance. Since we were absolutely clueless at the time, we ended up buying them when we got there, which was a pretty big mistake. Not only were many of their services sold out already (even for the following day), but our tickets were a lot more expensive than pre-paid ones would have been. I think we paid more than £90 for a return ticket (for the two of us, plus the car), so do book ahead if you go, folks.
Also, make sure to get there at least half an hour before your scheduled departure time. There will be some waiting time – especially if the ferries are running late, like they were this time – but it’s still better than missing your time slot and having to wait hours for the next available one.
Anyway, after about 40 minutes, we arrived at Fishbourne, and started making our way towards Sandown, our final destination for the day. The view was gorgeous all the way there, and I manage to take some lovely pictures from the car.
Once in Sandown, we walked down to the beach and decided to explore the area. It was a lot colder than we expected (around 17-18 degrees, but very windy), so we didn’t go into the water in the end. The water was freezing!
Our destination for the following day was Freshwater and The Needles, which is on the west coast of the island. So, in order not to miss anything and cram as much as possible into our last day, we decided to follow the coast and. essentially, drive round the island.
Our first stop, Shanklin, was a few minutes’ drive from Sandown. In fact, the two places are quite similar. Both villages are famous for their sandy beaches, but Shanklin’s Old Village was by far my favourite part of the area. It’s actually much smaller than we expected (it’s just a couple of houses, really) but I’m really glad we stopped.
Most of these cottages serve as pubs, tea rooms, or gift shops, some of which were still closed (it was Sunday, and quite early in the morning, after all) but we did manage to have a look around in the gift shops, along with a surprisingly large amount of tourists! As a bonus, we also popped into one of the local charity shops where I picked up a new thriller. Win-win!
Our next stop was St Catherine’s Lighthouse, just outside of Ventnor. It took us ages to find it, mostly because the GPS kept sending us to the wrong place (we ended up in the middle of nowhere, at a road which was closed), but we made it eventually. And it was definitely worth it!
It was still quite early, so we didn’t actually go inside the lighthouse – which you can do, by the way, between 1 and 4.30 p.m – but we went down to the coast and had a nice walk in the area.
And, after a quick detour to Blackgang, we arrived to our final destination, The Needles. What we didn’t realise is that it’s actually a massive amusement park, with lots of activities for kids and families. Since we didn’t have an awful lot of time, we decided to head straight to the coastal path and check out the Needles, which is what we came for.
According to the park’s website, there is chairlift which, and I quote “is one of the best ways to view the Isle of Wight’s most famous landmark”. We didn’t take the chairlift (the boyfriend has a fear of hights and I have motion sickness, so we pretty much ruled it out within 3 seconds), but I’m glad we didn’t.
We assumed – just like most of the tourists, as it turns out – that the lift would be a little bit closer to the Needles. However, we agreed to take the stairs instead and literally ended up at the same place as those who took the chairlift. So if it’s your first time visiting, I’d say avoid the hassle and just walk – the view is exactly the same.
Another thing we didn’t realise is that the Needles don’t actually belong to the park. (Whaaat?) As it turns out, you have to take the coastal path up the cliffs, so it’s actually a 15-20 minute walk from the car park and the rest of the attractions. The view is gorgeous, though, so it’s worth it!
The Isle of Wight is a beautiful place and we had a lovely time. If, like me, you’ve never been there before, I honestly couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, whether it’s for a weekend only or a whole week, and I’m sure I’ll be back for a second visit very soon.
Have you been to the Isle of Wight yet? What are some of your favourite places? 🙂